Shared Abyss

Whenever I sit down to write something here I always start questioning why I want to write something, if I am feeling obligated or if I have something to say. I wonder if I should write something general or personal, mundane or exciting, who will read it and if that should somehow inform my choices.

Sometimes I write an entire post only to reach the end and realize that I am not going to publish it. At times I’ll find a kernel of interesting prose in the middle that I’ll extract and build on, but often it will never see the light of day.

For the most part, I think this is a valid writing and publishing method, we use the internet too much like an endless void where we can spew whatever into the world as if it will disappear into the darkness. Good, bad, horrific, beautiful, inane, engaging – but it doesn’t and while I will never say we should stop doing that, I do think we should pause and reflect beforehand. We can so easily wound with a few words, or keystrokes, and it is important to be mindful of that.

There is a lot on my mind these days and I could absolutely post every feeling and thought here, for the universe to see, but I don’t know that it would help. Yes, there is catharsis in putting words to paper (or digital paper) for me, but that doesn’t mean it is the best course of action. Sometimes that hypothetical post is just words on a screen that I can delete, freed from my mind, even if I was the only person who read the words.

Over the years I’ve learned that it is both the things we say and those we don’t, that our minds will dwell on. I will avoid dwelling, on what I could have or didn’t, by publishing this post regarding finding intention in sharing. It isn’t really saying anything or nothing, but sometimes that’s the point. Brains are so good at creating stories that each person that reads this will construct their own narrative about me – fill in the space I’ve left open for interpretation – adding more into the shared abyss. What will you share or not share?

Emotion Or Passion

In conversation with friends this evening I was talking about my counseling and my one friend asked if I ever got emotional during the sessions. I wasn’t sure how to answer at first, so I tried to get clarification. Did they mean talking about emotional issues? Nope, they meant, did I ever cry during the sessions?

I paused for a moment, at which point they continued saying because you just aren’t an emotional person.

My other friend and I looked at each other then at the same time said we’d consider me to be emotional. I added that yes sometimes I cry. Then the conversation changed to a new topic.

It got me thinking though, am I emotional? At the time I was thinking yes, but on reflection perhaps it isn’t that I’m emotional, I’m passionate.

Maybe it is because I live on the hot-tempered, angry, venting side of the emotional spectrum, rather than the crying portion. I experience sadness but I generally am not going to cry regarding my feelings. I feel much more inclined to release fire than water.

I don’t get upset about feelings so that might make me less emotional, but I get upset about illogical things or stupidity, which brings out a passionate response.

My emotional centre feels more like a volcano, everything boils under the surface until I erupt, but when I’m done there is a new layer of protection and I go back to simmering.

My friend who asked though is the crying type, cries when they’re sad, happy, or angry. Their tear ducts are directly connected to their emotional centre more like an ever-flowing waterfall, to them crying is closely linked to emotion.

To them, I’m not emotional because I don’t express it in the same way they do, but to someone who acts similarly, like my other friend, it was ridiculous to think I wasn’t.

It was an instance of people viewing things from different perspectives; it all depends on your context.

Review: 4 out of 5 Stars*

This morning, as I do on most mornings, I was standing in my local coffee shop waiting for my order to be prepared and chatting with the staff. The owner came in staring at their mobile phone with a bit of a perplexed look on their face. When they noticed us looking at them, they told us that someone had left a review of the cafe online yesterday which included the line “…the AC was just way too cold for me! almost got frostbite”.

Let me note that, like many parts of the world, here in BC we’ve been having a late Summer heatwave and yesterday, in particular, had been one of the hottest days. People were purposefully seeking out places with AC to bask in the chill!

All day though this review was at the back of my mind.

The thing that nagged at me about the review was, despite thinking the cafe was great 4 out of 5 stars (I guess only body temperature cafes get full marks), it seemed like the most ridiculous thing to take time out of your day to post online! A person took time out of their, I am guessing not-so-busy, day to ensure this remark was forever linked to the cafe via the interwebs. Why?

I even made the comment to the owner that this was why some people don’t deserve the internet.

I realize that is a slightly odd thing for me to say, as I am posting on the internet myself, but there is a big difference between me typing words into the void that barely anyone will read and going to a company’s website to make a backhanded remark that the company has no ability to remove or really comment on (because what is there to say to that?).

Admittedly, I am a venter by nature, when something bothers me I will heatedly and loudly exclaim my displeasure to my friends/co-workers…in the privacy of…the real world.

I actively think about what I am putting out into forever – because the internet is forever. I mentally determine and measure potential outcomes before I decide to post anything be it photos or writing, asking myself questions like would I be embarrassed, now or in the future, by someone finding this? Will it be injurious to someone if I post this? It isn’t that I want to put bland content into the world, but I don’t want to drag down the IQ of the entire universe with useless nonsense (some nonsense is entertaining and I’m not talking about that).

No, this innocuous little comment by a random coffee drinker (if I am being extra judgemental, they probably don’t even drink coffee. 😒) doesn’t really hurt anyone. It is just one example of how often people don’t think through their actions when they have easy access to a worldwide audience (or a few hundred in this case).

Yes, I am an overthinker of the highest order, but more and more frequently I will see or read or hear something and my immediate response is, why? Did that need to be shared with the world? Couldn’t you have just thought it through and come to the conclusion that the only reason you are doing it is so more people can “see” you? A little more thinking and less instantaneous (and permanent) reaction will do the entire world good.

Did I need to write this? Nope. Am I doing it anyway? Yup, because this is my little piece of the Forever Digital and I can.

But hey, if I knew the person that wrote that review I would have told them it was pointless too – consistency IRL and online!

*The temperature in my home is perfect, but I have no coffee so…

Green

Envy is a strange emotion. Like any emotion it can get you into trouble if you aren’t careful.

Some people live in the land of envy, I’m sure you’ve met one or two of these people before. They see everyone around them as a source of their deficiencies, almost as if they think everyone else’s existence is directed at them as an example of everything they are missing. Our culture seems to be pushing more people towards this type of thinking, consumerism and social media creating a feeling of lacking.

Most people only visit envy though, knowing that it isn’t healthy to dwell on things you don’t have. Either go out and get them or move on.

I’m often envious not of people’s material things but of their willpower or resilience. I can figure out a way to buy nice things, I can not figure out a way to convince myself I like exercising or eating tomatoes. Or those people that are happy regardless of the hundreds of ways you could explain to them why they shouldn’t because… everything!

Basically my envy is due to my laziness and pragmatism, but as I said it’s important to know when to move on. I’m never going to enjoy tomatoes or exercise, and no matter how much distance I put between myself and the news I’ll always know the world is a little too scary for me to be ignorantly happy.

My Repeating Annoyances

I am sure we all have a list like this, the things that no matter how many times they happen, we never learn our lesson or seem to be able to avoid falling prey to their irritation.

  • Laundry will be done and in need of folding exactly when I want to just crawl into bed.
  • Related: Forgetting to make the bed with the clean linens until I’m wanting to crawl into said linens and go to sleep.
  • Putting an item I need to take somewhere beside the door, then leaving without said item.
  • Related: Needing to bring something home from work that I don’t remember until I’m pulling into the driveway.
  • Finding the energy to do some thing around the yard, that I’ve been procrastinating about, at the exact time it starts raining/snowing/whatever so I have to put it off again.
  • Trying over and over to buy back ups of my favourite clothes when they’re on sale but not managing to do it before they get a hole in them or completely wear out, forcing me to go without said favourite clothes or buy them at full price.
  • Grabbing an extra piece of paper towel, every time, until the entire roll is basically in piles of folded napkins on my coffee table/desk.
  • Meaning to call, text or email someone before they contact me and 99% failing by minutes.
  • Being exhausted beyond words right up until the moment my head hits the pillow when my brain starts thinking ALL THE THINGS.
  • Related: Thinking about people no longer in my life when my brain bounces randomly around from thought to thought then hits one tangentially connected to said people but this time gets stuck instead of bouncing off to the next thought.
  • Realizing I have to replace/recharge the batteries in something just as I need to use it.

Obviously these are just as the title says, annoyances, in their existence and their recurrence. Are they signs of a distracted mind? Probably. A busy one too.

We all have so much on our plates these days little annoyances are bound to pop up. Some toxic optimist would say you can’t have pleasing things without these types of experience for perspective.

Well I say I should be old enough now to not require examples in order to form obvious conclusions.

Knowing and writing this will not help. I’ll absolutely do at least one of these things within the next week.

I guess I should get used to them, but what fun is there for a stubborn, argumentative soul if they don’t have insignificant problems to complain about?

Time to go curl up in bed on a pile of clean linens while thinking about people I don’t want to and trying to fall asleep. 😉

New Mechanisms

The past few years have been, well shitty, for many of us. One way or another the pandemic has affected our lives, added another layer of stress to what, for many, was already too much.

I definitely have felt like more than one layer has been laid upon my life. Getting older comes with a few built in challenges for ourselves physically and mentally, plus from our families who are also getting older and experiencing similar challenges.

As you grow up you realise your parents won’t be around forever, but you hope it won’t impact your life too much. It does, no matter when it happens, but especially when you aren’t ready for it.

Happening during a stressful time in the world doesn’t help.

Happening when you have an extra stressful job half the year doesn’t help either.

Yet, some things have a habit of happening when you are least prepared for them.

I’ve said I vent here, to my (ever patient) friends, to my physical health practitioners. Well tomorrow I’m adding mental health practitioner.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I’m going to SEE if that is something that could help me deal with my stress/grief/anxiety.

I have never spoken with a mental health practitioner (counsellor/psychologist/etc) as far as I recall (my brain has a habit of archiving it’s harddrive, I’m the worst at remembering my own past).

Tomorrow I will try to discuss my life with a stranger – this could be interesting. If nothing else maybe tomorrow I’ll have something to write about – or are you not supposed to do that? Guess I will find out.

Reactions

I have been thinking about how people react to situations lately. Questioning why they decide to take a certain point of view or make a specific choice.

Humans seem to inevitably assume we are correct in our position and decisions. We are also a naturally stubborn species.

Yes, of course there are those who manage to rise above the fray and give those of us who care something to aspire towards, but for the most part we all act the same. With different ethics or morals in play. Different history creating different decision matrices in our brains.

I know this, yet I still become apoplectic when dealing with some people and their inability to listen or behave in a manner I feel best. I’m not saying I’m always right but…sometimes I am.

Experience teaches us all and when people specifically ignore your experience in a certain arena it is disappointing and in some circumstances potentially ill-advised.

The proverbial they, say that we only get truly angry when our core beliefs are threatened. My core beliefs are very practical, logical and scientifically based but my reactions to a perceived threat are almost visceral.

Yes, I can rant with the best of them. Incoherently scream until I’m blue in the face knowing it will get me nowhere because changing other people’s minds is difficult or sometimes impossible.

My reactions at these times, ranting to those close to me about other people’s poor choices, is always interesting to me. I lose an ability to calm myself, eventually I will, once I’ve vented my frustrations. As soon as I am done though I always wonder why I can’t stay calm. I have that ability in my professional life. People can say the most inane things to me as clients and I will nod and smile to them. Sure, as soon as they leave I am ranting to my coworkers, but that client thinks I am a beacon of professional grace.

So why can’t I react the same way in non-client interactions?

Family ones for instance. Sure you’ll probably say, ‘Well, family is different’. Okay, I suppose I care less about what they think of me and perhaps I think it is more important for them to benefit from my experience. Still it is the place where I could most benefit from that calm professionalism and I know this. So why does my brain go all prehistoric rage monster when I need it to be an enlightened calm monk?

We are such a complicated species and the last few years have definitely shown us the best and worst we are all capable of.

I think perhaps we all need to work on using our professional demeanor more in order to temper our reactions. One day I’ll find my inner calm for all situations, I’m working on it but it takes time and more patience than I currently have in reserve.

PS: I still don’t get why people make irrational, illogical choices but at least ranting…er…writing about it here makes me feel a little better.

A Long Time Ago…

That sounds like the opening to a novel. This is not a novel, but one has to start a story in some manner, so why not.

A long time ago, I used to be able to write whenever I put my fingers on the keyboard or a writing utensil to paper. It was a feeling like the words wanted to be created. Not that those words together necessarily formed anything that was worth reading, but they existed and that felt like an accomplishment.

When I say a long time ago, I don’t know exactly how long, decades maybe, but time seems to become less rigidly calculable the older I get. I will think of an event and realize that it happened much more recently or distant than I thought. So long ago feels like decades, but may have been only years.

Either way that habit of writing that felt so natural has become more of an effort. I’m sure I can think of numerous reasons that I find myself at a loss for words. Exhaustion from work/life. Lack of interesting things to say because of a lack of time or energy to experience new things to discuss. Maybe our brains just become less skilled at certain things over time, other mundane thoughts and tasks taking over the space where those words once flowed.

Repetition becomes a habit. We tell the same stories over and over (am I doing that now?), instead of creating new ones; everything by rote. A little bit like how our lives tend to take on routines: wake up; go to work; eat some food; go to sleep; repeat.

For the majority of us, we don’t seem to break out of these routines often. Lives based on specific needs create scenarios to fulfil those needs. We have to work to earn money to have a life, so we do, perhaps to the detriment of said life. It is a fine balance and that repetition prevents us from falling too far from our comfortable little bubbles. Never leaving our little bubbles though means less input for new stories.

A long time ago I was young and learning all the things, now I am older, still learning but the lessons aren’t always as impactful and generally not as interesting to try to relay. These days I open this blog, desperately wanting to feel that natural flow of words, but I stare at the page and spend too much time wondering if anyone else will care about my words (sometimes I wonder if I am even making sense when I do write).

This is where I am, comfortable in my bubble, but lacking new experiences to describe to you or perhaps lacking the will to impart some of those recent experiences.

I don’t wish to be in the past, that time is gone, those lessons learned (or not), but I do wish my mind could revert back to that state of expression. Maybe it is something that can be achieved through habit, can you relearn natural expression or am I writing on repeat?

Black Hole

What do I want to write?

Stress.

I wish it was something I had more control over.

I’ve said it before I obsess, which isn’t a great quality when you are under stress. It means you then obsess over all the things causing you stress.

I would say that 75% of the time I deal with my stress pretty well. Venting my thoughts helps. Apologies, and thanks, to all those who’ve had to listen/read. I think letting them out prevents me from getting an ulcer or obsessing to distraction.

That other 25% is where the obsessive personality causes issues.

Dwelling on things that need to happen: house maintenance; making sure Mum has money; planning out everyone’s lives (because suddenly that seems to be my responsibility?); getting through tax season without having a complete meltdown; eating. Basically, there is a range from annoying chores to “OMG, I can’t do this!”.

All of these stressors are then either aggravated or assisted by various people, neither of which is helpful because I much prefer dealing with stress alone. Probably not the most reasonable approach, but I’m mostly only referring to that 25%. Those problems I am convinced would be solved if I could just deal with them and everyone else would just accept the resolution and shut up about it.

Instead, they are complicated by other people and I spend nights tossing in bed contemplating the problem from all angles, keeping myself up when I should be sleeping.

Thinking about stresses that were never meant to be mine, at least not yet, taking my time away from dealing with the stress in my own life or getting the sleep I need to work/live.

At times I catch myself thinking ‘hey, I think things are going well.’, then suddenly an appointment has to be made, a situation dealt with.

Stress is turning my brain to mush. It is building rage in my brain, that is going to come out in one long wail as I collapse in a heap on the ground. Except I’m pretty sure I’m losing my voice trying to talk over the people not listening to me when I try to explain the solutions to the problems – so I will just be falling to the ground my mouth a soundless void, a black hole – beware you don’t get pulled into its gravity.

Define Happiness

I watched One Night With Adele this evening, not because I was overly interested, it just happened to come on after another show I was watching so I figured, why not? The premise was Adele chatting with Oprah interspersed with a small private concert. This post isn’t about the show though – it was fine. This post is about one question, conversation, they had about being happy.

This is one of those questions that I’m always interested to hear how people answer, not because I think happiness is the “be all, end all” but because it is interesting to see how people define their own happiness.

Often people focus on others when creating their own happiness. I think parents are guilty of this, placing their children’s happiness before their own. Which to me has always seemed to undermine the message. How can your children be happy if you yourself are never happy? If you aren’t setting that example for them of what it looks like?

This is probably why I’ve never understood concepts like “stay together for the children”. Growing up, I was waiting for my parents to get divorced, I could see the tension and couldn’t understand why they kept pushing forward. (Yes, I know there are many complicated reasons people stay in relationships longer than they should, beyond children: money, comfort, abuse (emotional or physical), fear, religion, boredom.) In my mind, it always made more sense to be happy in one’s own right, before expecting those around them to be happy.

I digress though, happiness, people define it through others (children, partners) and some through deeds (charitable works, accomplishments). It is a bit of a complicated idea.

I’ve never really been “happy”, at least not in the way people wanted me to be. I’ve had many people in my life tell me I need to be happier or more optimistic until I showed them all the door. Having people tell you to “be happier” just makes you want to defy them for trying to instil their version of happiness in you and to turn into the grumpiest version of yourself, hence it is best to rid yourself of these people.

But what is happiness then?

For most people, it takes a good portion of their life to determine what makes them happy. We spend time testing out people, places and things, seeing what we like and don’t like. We can instantly decide we don’t like a certain food; a place might take a while to feel like home; people are harder, finding your own happiness is complicated but trying to fit other people into your version of happiness can be impossible. Probably why when we find people who we think make us happy we try to hold on for good or bad.

As we spend the time finding where we derive happiness we spend time testing out our capacity for happiness too. Some people thrive at a basic level of happiness, the kind you get from a good cup of coffee or a movie. They fill their life with these simple things or pleasures and never really strive for deeper happiness. Others require a much deeper level wherein only the answers to the universe will suffice. For most people, we never find a fixed place along that spectrum, instead, we move back and forth over time. Finding happiness in an honest conversation with friends, a simple sunset or a deeply introspective idea/book/piece of music.

I think I prefer this non-static version of happiness – I’m not wandering around smiling all the time. I have things that make me smile, happiness itself is just a little more ephemeral for me. I’m just living my life, a cynical pragmatist with a dark sense of humour.

If you think I should be more optimistic in order to be happier then you probably don’t want to listen to me vent about things and you shouldn’t be reading this blog – it will not make you happy.